Monday, September 9, 2013

Top Ten for Week of 9/8

1) Alabama Crimson Tide (idle this week, next game @Texas A&M 9/14)

2) Ohio State Buckeyes (beat San Diego State Aztecs 42-7 at home)
That was more along the lines of what Urban Meyer wanted to see out of his squad. Despite Braxton Miller going down early with a knee injury, Ohio State cruised to a victory over the Aztecs behind Kenny Guiton. The injury to Miller wasn't serious, but Urban erred on the side of caution in sitting him. Guiton looked very good in commanding the offense, throwing for two touchdowns and running for another on a 44 yard keeper. While he was able to lead the Buckeyes to victory, one has to worry about the durability of Miller. Meyer doesn't want him to carry the ball so often, but then that takes away part of what makes him so dangerous. The running game kept on course as Jordan Hall again had a good day and freshman Ezekiel Elliot managed to pick up good yards on his limited carries. The Ohio State defense continued to play well and continued to improve from last week. While they did allow a single touchdown, they also forced four turnovers. They play a Cal team in Berkeley next week, but Cal hasn't been able to stop any team on offense. Ohio State should be able to handle their match up next week with some ease.

3) Clemson Tigers (beat South Carolina State Bulldogs 52-13 at home)
This was an odd game to recap. Clemson dominated but Tajh Boyd barely had to do anything to get the victory. He lead the first several Clemson drives but didn't throw for a single touchdown pass. He wasn't as sharp as he was against Georgia, but I think that Dabo used this game to tune up the other pieces of the machine. He fed the running backs who played well, and wanted to see what he had in his second stringers who also showcased abilities. Most importantly, his defense got game time to gel which resulted in two interceptions and almost securing a shut out. This was a good warm up match before their first road game next week at NC State.

4) Stanford Cardinal (beat San Jose State Spartans 34-13 at home)
This was a solid victory for Stanford despite them not running the score up. The defense is going to be the life blood of this team and they held the Spartans in check last night. Spartans' QB David Fales is projected as an early round pick in the draft, possibly even a late first, and he was neutralized. He was held to 216 yards on 29 completed passes and the running backs were held to a collective 35 yards. Those are both improvements from their top 10 defense from last year. Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan is already showing signs of maturation, completing 63% for 207 yards and two touchdowns (he only threw 10 last year). Ty Montgomery stepped up at receiver and looks to be Hogan's go to guy. Coach Shaw must be happy that Tyler Gaffney chose to return to football instead of baseball because he had a great night as well. He gained 100 yards and 2 touchdowns on 20 carries while Anthony Wilkerson chipped in another 65 yards on 9 carries. Coach Shaw is building a team in the same mold as Alabama and it looks like they could even compete with them now.

5) Texas A&M Aggies (beat Sam Houston State Bearkats 65-28 at home)
It is still kind of concerning for the Aggies that they allowed 28 points to a lowly team. Sam Houston State garnered almost 400 total yards of offense and had 3 touchdown plays of over 30 yards and we incredibly effective running the ball. It is possible that this is the product of the Aggie's own uptempo offense. Manziel was leading very quick drives on their way to eight offensive touchdowns. Manziel looked a lot better this week while playing a full game. He threw for over 400 yards and three touchdowns, adding another 36 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. The running backs put together an impressive performance, rushing for a total of 201 yards and three additional touchdowns. This game was mostly a tune up before the Aggies welcome the Crimson Tide next week. We'll see if they'll be more effective stopping the run then.

6) Oregon Ducks (beat Virginia Cavaliers 59-10 in Charlottesville, VA)
Pretty much what you'd expect out of Oregon playing a lowly team. The Ducks had superior speed at all positions and utilized it with no mercy. Mariota had an average day throwing the ball, only completing 50% for 199 yards and 2 touchdowns. However, he was much more effective on the ground, going for 122 yards and a touchdown on only 4 carries. His abilities, when combined with De'Anthony Thomas (11 carries, 124 yards, 3 TDs) electrifying speed, makes this unit absolutely lethal. Freshman Thomas Tyner also showcased his abilities, running for two touchdowns and 51 yards on four carries. He looks like a more suitable number two running back than current second stringer Byron Marshall. Receiver Josh Huff continues to be the most reliable receiver they have, but someone really needs to separate themselves opposite him. What's really impressive from this game is the defense, which only allowed 298 total yards and forced three interceptions. The defensive backs of this unit are experienced and have some real play making abilities to force more turnovers this year.

7) Louisville Cardinals (beat East Kentucky Colonels 44-7 at home)
Any regression in the running game can easily be overlooked by what Bridgewater can do. Despite only gaining 76 rushing yards, the Cardinals stormed their way to another victory thanks to the arm of Bridgewater (72%, 397 Yards, 4 TDs). He continues to do a great job of distributing the ball and leading his team down the field when his running backs stall. What is really impressive is the fact that he doesn't seem to have a primary receiver that he locks on to. There is no Marquise Lee or Sammy Watkins on this team. Last week, Damien Copeland and Bridgewater got into a rhythm and that's who received most of his passes. This week, Devante Parker was able to get separation and caught more passes than Copeland. Bridgewater is so effective at going through his reads and delivering that teams cannot continuously defend against him. The defense was stout, but let's wait until next week when they play Kentucky to get a slightly better indication of where they stand.

8) LSU Tigers (beat UAB Blazers 59-17 at home)
Finally, a good performance out of Mettenberger. Les Miles knew that his team would overwhelm the Blazers, so he used it to Mettenberger some in game practice. The results are what Tigers fans have been waiting to see. He went 16-19 with 282 yards and 5 touchdowns. He appeared to be much more confident in his throws and decisions. Receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry accounted for all five of his touchdowns and more than 200 of his yards. Both were very promising coming out of high school and are now both juniors, so it is starting to look like they've also hit their stride in their second year with Mettenberger. Jeremy Hill returned from suspension and ran for 50 yards and a touchdown while Kenny Hilliard tacked on 54 more yards and another touchdown. If Miles can come to rely less and less on the running backs, LSU could compete for the SEC West. Look for him to allow Mettenberger to throw a lot in the next two weeks as they take on Kent State and Auburn before heading to Georgia.

9) Michigan Wolverines (beat Notre Dame Fighting Irish 41-30 at home)
If you're a Michigan fan, you better start praying that Devin Gardner has turned the corner after this week's game. He put on a clinic, totaling more than 350 yards and five touchdowns, four coming through the air. Like Mettenberger at LSU, he looked much more confident in his throws and was able to deliver all over the field. He was needed as Fitzgerald Toussaint could only manage 3.2 yards a run and was held without a touchdown while freshman Derrick Green was held out of the game for reasons I have yet to hear about. Gardner was in sync with receiver Jeremy Gallon all night, who ended with 184 yards on 8 catches and three touchdowns. He showed the ability to get open and make plays after the catch. If he can become a security blanket for Gardner, this offense just got better. The Wolverines gave up more points than I thought they would, but they really held Notre Dame to two offensive touchdowns and three field goals (the last touchdown was an INT return). They challenged Tommy Rees to throw and did a very good job of limiting him (29-53, 314 yards, 2 INT and 2 TD). They still have 3 weeks before B1G play to shore up the secondary.

10) Georgia Bulldogs (beat South Carolina Gamecocks 41-30 at home)
This division just got very interesting. Georgia dumped a three year running inferiority complex against the Gamecocks and came away with a huge victory thanks to the arm of Aaron Murray. Murray had a signature victory for his career in this game, going 17-23 for 309 yards and four touchdowns. He looked crisp in all of his throws and was delivering the ball with deadly accuracy. He didn't lock on to a single player, but rather ran threw his progressions and made the right choice on a consistent basis. It also helped that Todd Gurley continues to assert himself as one of college footballs best running backs. He carried the ball a whopping 30 times for 134 yards and a touchdown. His carries were invaluable as they chewed up clock and allowed the defense to rest. The defense is really the only concerning factor to this team. I knew they lost a lot of talent to the pros last year, but they have struggled pretty mightily in their first two games, giving up more than 450 total yards. That will need to change if they hope to beat LSU in two weeks.

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